Written by: Richard Haas
Richard Duane (Rick) Warren was born on January 28th, 1954 in San Jose (California). Rick Warren is a preacher and writer of many Christian books. Rick Warren has been married for over thirty years to Kay Warren and has three children. Sadly, his son Matthew committed suicide in April of 2013. He had studied and received his Masters of Divinity at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1979. Warren has taught at Oxford and Cambridge.
In 1980, Warren founded Saddleback Church in California with just one family. Now, an average of 22,000 visitors per week. Making it one of the biggest churches in the United States. Saddleback and Rick Warren are part of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Among other things, Rick Warren leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. More than 400,000 ministers and priests throughout the world are trained, and almost 157,000 church leaders have subscribed to his weekly newsletter.
In 2005, Time Magazine named Rick Warren one of the “100 most influential people in the world.” In 2005 U.S. News & World Report called Warren as one of “America’s 25 best leaders.” In 2009, he pronounced the prayer at the inauguration of Barack Obama as President.
The question we must ask ourselves and examine is if Rick Warren is so influential among churches, church leaders, and church members, is his influence one of that lines up with the Word of God? Is what Rick Warren teaches biblical?
Issues & Concerns:
One of the problems with Rick Warren and his teachings is that Warren himself is a very elusive and at the same time a talented speaker. He is very capable of capturing his audience with quick smooth sounding phrases and Christian speak. This makes nailing down out right heretical teachings hard. Rick Warren is superb at mixing lies with truth. Rick Warren is exquisite at doublespeak. In the simplest terms, this means that whoever he is talking to he will sing their song to please them. In other words, he if he is speaking to Evangelicals, he speaks what they want to hear. If he is speaking with Roman Catholics he capitulates to their theology. This is why Rick Warren has been called a theological chameleon. For Rick Warren is always changing his theology to meet his surroundings. Rick Warren is by all means a Pragmatist.
So to understand what some of the concerns with Rick Warren are, let’s look at what he has said in his own words.
Rick Warren insults older members of the church and those who oppose “Purpose Driven” teachings in their church:
- “Be willing to let people leave the church. And I told you earlier the fact that people are gonna leave the church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you’re choosing who leaves. You say, “But Rick, yes, they’re the pillars of the church.” Now, you know what pillars are. Pillars are people who hold things up … And in your church, you may have to have some blessed subtractions before you have any real additions.” Rick Warren, while giving his “Building a Purpose-Driven Church” seminar at Saddleback Church, January 1998. The seminar was taped, transcribed and reported on by Dennis Costella in his article The Church Growth Movement.
- Rick Warren describes Fundamentalist Christians as “those that stopped listening….it is an attitude that doesn’t want to listen to anybody else.”
Rick seems to believe that his book, not the Bible, is the power for the church power in the 21st Century:
- “Personal computers have brand names. But inside every PC is an Intel chip and an operating system, Windows,” Warren says. “The Purpose Driven paradigm is the Intel chip for the 21st-century church and the Windows system of the 21st-century church,” —Rick Warren, Christianity Today, Oct. 2005
Rick insults those who strictly adhere to the fundamentals of the faith:
- “Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America. The word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.” –Rick Warren speaking at The Pew Forum on Religion, May 23, 2005
Rick Warren promotes the liberal mantra of Judge not:
- On page 164, of Purpose Driven Life Warren says, “God warns us over and over not to criticize, compare, or judge each other. …”
Rick Warren compares those who believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith to extremists and radical Muslims:
- In his interview on Larry King Live on December 2, 2006, Rick Warren compared biblical fundamentalists to Muslim extremists. He said: “There are all kinds of fundamentalists, Larry, and they’re all based on fear. There are Christian fundamentalists. There are Muslim fundamentalists. I’ve met some Jewish fundamentalists. You know that there are secular fundamentalists. They’re all based on fear.”
- In the January 10, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer Rick was quoted as saying that Christian fundamentalism will be an enemy of the 21st century. “Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be ‘one of the big enemies of the 21st century.’ … ‘Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism – they’re all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.”
Rick Warren uses a sloppy paraphrase in his book and promotes pantheism:
- “The Bible says, He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.” (PDL p. 88)
Rick Warren tells a group of non-believers God is happy with them and they are His children.
- “Did you know that God smiles when you be you. Some people have the misguided idea that God only gets excited when you’re doing “spiritual things” like going to church or helping the poor or confessing or doing something like that. The bottom line is that God gets pleasure watching you be you. Why? He made you. And when you do what you were made to do He says ‘That’s my boy!’, ‘That’s my girl!” You’re using the talent and ability that I gave you… So my advice to you is look at what is in your hand, your identity, your influence, your income, and say it’s not about me, it’s about making the world a better place.” –Interview on TED Talk TV show, Feb 2006
Rick Warren says the future is religious pluralism.
- “Secularism is quite small outside Europe and Manhattan,” he joked. “The future of the world lies in religious pluralism,” –thehoya.com February 5, 2008
Rick has people praying a salvation prayer that does not mention, sin, repentance, the cross or the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the video that accompanies the “40 Days of Purpose,” Warren leads his listeners in prayer at the conclusion of the first session. The prayer is as follows:
- “Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don’t want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don’t understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for.” Warren goes on to say: “Now if you’ve just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You’ve just become a part of the family of God.”
On Day seven, in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Warren again fails to explain the Gospel and Godly sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation.
- “Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for… all you need to do is receive and believe…. Will you accept God’s offer?”… I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity, ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.’” He then promises, “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose for your life.”
As we can see by Rick Warren’s own teachings and words while Rick Warren may be influential he is not biblically grounded.